Prostate cancer is a condition where the cells in a man’s prostate start to grow and change rapidly, creating a tumor that can spread throughout the body. The prostate is a gland located in the lower abdomen in front of the rectum and just below the bladder. The purpose of the prostate is to manufacture seminal fluid that helps nourish the sperm and carry it from the body in the man’s semen.
What is Palliative Care?
Palliative care is a patient-centered from of medical care that focuses on improving the comfort and quality of life for seriously ill patients and their families. Palliative care involves a team of individuals, including nurses, doctors, and social workers, who work alongside your regular medical providers. Palliative care can be used in conjunction with curative treatment and is available for anyone at any stage of illness.
How Palliative Care is Utilized During Treatment
Prostate cancer has few, if any, symptoms in the early stages. As the disease progresses, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Difficulty urinating such as a weak urine stream, trouble starting or stopping urination, or interrupted urine flow.
- Frequent urination
- Pain or burning with urination
- Blood in the urine or semen
- Pain in lower back and hips
- Difficulty obtaining or maintaining an erection or painful ejaculation
Treatment for prostate cancer typically involves surgery to remove the tumor, chemotherapy, radiation, and hormone therapy. In the case of early stage, slow growing cancer, your doctor may take a “wait and see” approach and monitor your disease with frequent checkups.
Your Palliative Care Team
Your palliative care team will answer any questions that you and your family may have about your disease. They will make sure you understand all of your treatment options so you can make the choice that best fits with your personal goals.
One of the many benefits of palliative care is that your care team can help you manage the symptoms of your prostate cancer and treatment. For example, they can recommend medications that can help reduce the bone pain often associated with prostate cancer. These treatments may help you reduce your need for narcotic pain relievers.
Prostate cancer patients undergoing hormone or radiation therapy often feel weak and fatigued. Palliative care specialists can recommend medications, exercises, and other lifestyle changes that can help boost your energy level. This can improve your overall quality of life by enabling you to spend more time with those you love.
Incontinence and decreased sex drive are common symptoms of prostate cancer. These symptoms can be difficult to deal with both physically and emotionally. Your palliative care team is available to help you cope with these issues and discuss these matters with your family.
The palliative care team is there to be your ally in your battle against prostate cancer. The team is available to facilitate communication with your various doctors and to ease your stress by assisting you in making the many decisions that go along with a cancer diagnosis.
How Can I Get Palliative Care?
If you or a family member are interested in palliative care, you should ask your doctor for a referral. Palliative care services are normally available on an inpatient, outpatient, and in-home basis. Call us today for more information about our palliative care services.